For combat mechanics in other games, see Combat mechanics (Dragon Age II) and Combat mechanics (Inquisition).
See also: Combat, Spells (Origins), Talents (Origins), and Ability mechanics

Combat mechanics comprise the technical details relevant to combat in Dragon Age: Origins.

Armor[edit | edit source]

A numerical value that is commonly a property of armor and shields and serves as an integer reduction in physical damage sustained from a successful attack.

Armor Penetration[edit | edit source]

Armor penetration reduces your opponent's armor. It acts in direct opposition to the defender's armor. For example, if you have 3 armor penetration and your opponent has 10 armor, your attacks damage the opponent as if it had 7 armor. Note that excess Armor Penetration does not add to damage. With 12 ArmPen versus 8 armor, it is as if the opponent has 0 armor, not -4; the 4 points of extra ArmPen is not used in any way. Armor penetration is capped at 41 points.

Armor penetration can be enhanced with Telekinetic Weapons, two-handed strength, stone aura + renewed assault, pulverizing blows + quake, aim + master archer, equipment and Cunning. Each point of cunning adds approximately 0.14 armor penetration, the exact formula is:

AP = (Cunning - 10) / 7

Attack[edit | edit source]

A numerical value that is used to determine whether a physical attack succeeds in impacting, though not necessarily damaging, an enemy.

AttackValue = Base + 0.5 * {(Strength - 10) + (Dexterity - 10)} + AttackBonuses

Base attack depends on class. It is 50 for mages, 55 for rogues and 60 for warriors. Equipment, skills, spells and talents provide bonuses to Attack. Note under the influence of some spells and talents, such as Weakness and Powerful Swings, this bonus can become negative.

Attack Roll[edit | edit source]

Example with 100 Attack
Defense Hit Probability
in %
50 100
75 79
100 54
125 29
150 4
154 0
200 0

For most attacks (including activated Talents), an attack roll against the target's defense is performed. If the attack roll is successful, the attack connects.

When the attacker's Attack value is the same as the defender's Defense value, the hit probability is 54%. Each point of attack increases this by one point (up to 100%), each point of defense decreases this probability by one point (at 0, attacks with attack rolls will always miss).

Note: Melee attacks check against the Defense value, while ranged attacks check against Missile Deflection, which is the base Defense value with any missile deflection bonuses (e.g. from carrying a shield) added.

Attack Speed[edit | edit source]

Melee Attacks[edit | edit source]

The rate at which automatic attacks (not activated Talents) can be performed by a creature is determined by the Weapon Style used and the Weapon itself. It can be increased with spells: Haste, items: swift salve and talents: Momentum, Blessing of the Fade and Blood Thirst.

The duration of a normal attack (no activated Talent used) is calculated as follows:

AttackDuration = (BaseTiming + WeaponSpeedMod) * CharacterSpeedModifier

BaseTiming[edit | edit source]

  • Dual-Weapons (each weapon is used in turn): 1.5s
  • Weapon and Shield: 2.0s
  • Two-handed: 2.5s

WeaponSpeedMod[edit | edit source]

This modifier is the Speed Modifier listed on the Weapons page.

Note: When dual-wielding with different speeds, the timing is averaged and will alternate between main-hand and off-hand weapons every hit. I.e., if you wield Starfang (-0.1) and Rose's Thorn (-0.5), you will make an attack every [(1.5-0.1)+(1.5-0.5)]/2 = 1.2 seconds.

CharacterSpeedModifier[edit | edit source]

This value is normally 1.0. It is modified by the following:

Due to a bug in core_h.nss, the CharacterSpeedModifier resets to 1.0, if it is less than 0.5 (e.g. by having Haste and Momentum activated).

  • BUG: Combining Blessing of the Fade and Momentum breaks the 0.5 cap for some people, but not for others.

Ranged Attacks[edit | edit source]

The duration of a ranged attack comprises base duration and aim delay.

Bows and Crossbows[edit | edit source]

  • Base duration (draw duration) of attacks with bows and crossbows is determined by the type of chest armor on the character.
  • For party members, base duration is 2.0s if the character is wearing heavy armor without Master Archer, or massive armor. It is 0.8s otherwise. For NPC's, these values are increased to 2.5s and 1.5s, respectively. This duration is not affected by any attack speed modifier.
  • Base aim delay (aim loop duration) is 0.2s for shortbows, 0.3s for longbows, and 0.8s for crossbows. This delay can only be reduced to 0. When using offensive talents from the Archery group, base aim delay is set to 1.5s. This duration is modified by a number of abilities and the "Rapid aim" effect from equipment.
See also: Aim Speed Reference Sheet for details on items, talents and spells modifying Aim Time

Staves[edit | edit source]

  • For staves, base duration is 0.3s, aim delay is 0.1s.
  • On average, each staff attack takes about 1.5s.

Backstab[edit | edit source]

Backstab is a type of combat attack result achieved when certain prerequisites are met, as detailed below. All Rogues automatically have the ability to backstab. Backstab functions completely separately from stealth.

A backstab is scored if all of the following are true:

  • The attacker is a rogue.
  • The attacker is humanoid.
  • The attacker uses a melee weapon (or bare hand).
  • The attack is a basic attack and not an activated ability (i.e. one cannot backstab with Deadly Strike), unless the ability is scripted to cause backstabs (e.g. Flicker).
  • The target is not immune to critical hits.
  • Dual Striking mode is not active.
  • The attacker is flanking the target, or if the target is stunned/paralyzed and the attacker has Coup De Grace.

Backstabs are performed with both the offhand and main-hand weapons, but the animation shows only the main-hand attack. It seems, however, that any elemental damage runes equipped on the offhand weapon are not counted towards damage in a backstab. Only the main-hand weapons damage oriented runes seem to work correctly. Whether this is a bug or not is unconfirmed.[confirmation needed] Successive backstabs are possible. They are indicated by successive over-the-head/downward thrusts made by the main-hand weapon.

Backstabbing is how rogues do the most damage. In order to properly backstab, the rogue must be behind the target. What counts as "behind" is shown by the red circle around the feet of the target. A portion of that circle will be black (not filled in). That arc shows where a rogue can stand and get off a backstab.

Backstab versus critical hit[edit | edit source]

  • In terms of damage calculation, both backstab and critical hit use the same multiplier: 1.5 times normal damage by default. This multiplier is increased by the "+X% backstab/critical damage" effect from equipment.
  • Backstabs cannot shatter a frozen or petrified target like critical hits can, as shattering specifically requires critical hits.
  • Backstab has higher priority than critical hit: if all backstab conditions hold true, an attack out of stealth will be a backstab.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Backstab damage calculation is done separately for each weapon - main-hand and offhand - although the animation shows the character hit only with the main-hand weapon. This is noticeable if the character is equipped with a high damage main-hand weapon and a low damage offhand weapon. There will be a significant difference between damage values from two consecutive backstabs.

Stealth[edit | edit source]

Stealth is a talent available to Rogues. A rogue can always enter stealth outside of combat mode. In combat, they can enter stealth if there is no perceivable enemy within 30 meters, or if they have Combat Stealth and the perception rank of all enemies within 30 meters are lower than their stealth rank (rank in Stealth tree). In most cases, a successful attack out of stealth is an automatic critical hit. Stealth also incurs a -40% movement speed penalty.

Perception Rank

  • Normal and weaker enemies: 1
  • Lieutenants: 2
  • Bosses: 3
  • Elite Bosses: 4

Maintaining Stealth

Certain events always break stealth:

  • Attacking an enemy.
  • Activating or using any ability (including Stealing).
  • If there is an enemy with a higher perception rank than the rogue's stealth rank within 30 meters.
  • A number of status effects automatically break stealth if applied successfully: root (Pinning Shot), knockdown, damage over time, daze (Disorient), stun, heavy impact (Mighty Blow), sleep, charm, fear, confusion, grabbed, overwhelmed, petrified (Cone of Cold, Petrify), knockback.


  • With Combat Stealth (rank 3), a rogue has a chance equal to their level to remain in stealth whenever they take non-physical damage. With Master Stealth (rank 4), this chance is doubled.
  • With Stealthy Item Use (rank 2), there is a 90% chance a rogue will remain in stealth whenever they use an item (throwing bombs, setting traps, etc.).
  • Interacting with objects (disarming traps, opening doors, firing ballistae, etc.) does not break stealth.


After a small delay, Threat is reset. Breaking stealth too quickly can prevent this.


  • Cunning has no effect on entering or maintaining stealth.
  • Theoretically, attacking out of stealth guarantees a critical hit, if the attack connects, and the target is not immune to critical hits. However, there is a peculiar rule when the rogue is under the effect of Dual Striking or Rapid Shot, due to the way this behavior is coded. Stealth forces the result to be critical only if the attack is not a natural critical hit. If the attack is a natural critical hit, then the no-crit effect from Dual Striking and Rapid Shot will force it to be a normal hit, ignoring any auto-crit effect.
  • In many cases, a physical attack against a creature will be converted into a miss if this creature enters stealth before the attack connects. The impact damage of this attack will be negated, but all secondary effects (knockdown, stun, bleeding, etc.) will still be applied. This applies to both player characters and enemies.
  • The perception check against a rogue attempting to enter stealth only includes enemies who are perceived by the rogue, and not the other way around. This means, if an enemy enters stealth, thus disappears from the rogue's perception list, the rogue will not have to check against this enemy's perception.
  • Awakening adds another ability that applies stealth, which is Decoy. The only source of stealth in Origins is Stealth, so many stealth checks specifically check whether Stealth is active or not, rather than check for the stealth effect itself. This means Decoy's special stealth is excepted from these rules. More details on Decoy's page.

Damage[edit | edit source]

Weapon Damage[edit | edit source]

Damage caused by an attack with a Weapon is calculated as follows:

  • Normal Hit:
Damage = BaseWeaponDmg + AttributeBasedDmg + CharacterDmgBonus + OnHitDamage - ArmorDmgReduction
  • Backstab / Critical Hit:
Damage = CriticalDamageModifier * (BaseWeaponDmg + AttributeBasedDmg) + 
         CharacterDmgBonus + OnHitDmg - ArmorDmgReduction
Note: If the calculated Damage value is less than 1.0, it is set 1.0.

BaseWeaponDmg[edit | edit source]

The base weapon damage is listed on the Weapons page. The damage range listed there is multiplied by (0.9 + 0.1 * WeaponRank).

AttributeBasedDmg[edit | edit source]

One or two character attributes are used to determine AttributeBasedDmg (listed on the Weapons page). Each weapon type has an Attribute Modifier (listed on the Weapons page as well), which influences the Damage Bonus based on attributes.

  • One character attribute used:
AttributeBasedDmg = [Attribute Value - 10] *  
                    [Weapon Attribute Modifier] * [Weapon Style Modifier]
  • Two character attributes used:
AttributeBasedDmg = 0.5 * [Attribute Value1 + Value2 - 20] * 
                    [Weapon Attribute Modifier] * [Weapon Style Modifier]

Weapon Style Modifier:

  • Single Weapon / Sword and Shield / Two-Handed: range 50-75%, average 0.625
  • Dual Wielding: range 25%-50%, average 0.375 main hand; 0.125 off hand (full 0.375 multiplier with Dual-Weapon Training)

CharacterDmgBonus[edit | edit source]

This damage bonus is based on a special character property (Property 39, DamageBonus), modified by the following:

Critical Hit / Backstab[edit | edit source]

BaseWeaponDmg and AttributeBasedDmg damage is multiplied by a CriticalDamageModifier, which is calculated by the following formula:


COMBAT_CRITICAL_DAMAGE_MODIFIER is always 1.5, which means all weapons do 150% damage on a critical hit. This modifier can be increased by equipment that has the effect "+X% critical/backstab damage", which modifies the property Critical Range of the character. All of these bonuses from equipment are added up into PROPERTY_ATTRIBUTE_CRITICAL_RANGE, which is capped at 200. This means the maximum total CriticalDamageModifier that can be achieved on a character is 350%: 150% base and +200% from gear. When this is achieved, every critical hit or backstab from the character will deal 350% of the normal attack damage. So "+X% critical/backstab damage" actually means adding X% of the normal attack damage.

Note: Shadow Striking multiplies total backstab damage by 1.5 while Shadow Form is active, making it one of the most powerful abilities for backstabbers.

On-Hit Effects[edit | edit source]

When a weapon hits, a number of on-hit effects can be triggered: Damage from Runes, Damage from Enchantment Spells (Flaming Weapons, Frost Weapons) and Poisons, armor penalty, etc. These on-hit properties are not triggered when activated talents are used. As of Patch 1.04, when a Dual-Wielder back-stabs, Runes and other on-hit properties for the off-hand weapon are properly registering for each off-hand strike and the main-hand on-hit properties are no longer triggered for hits from both weapons.

ArmorDmgReduction[edit | edit source]

Armor can reduce damage dealt by melee weapons and ranged weapons (except for staves, which have special handling in the game engine). Other physical damage (e.g. from an explosion of Walking Bomb) is not reduced.

An effective armor value is determined for each hit:

ArmorDmgReduction = (0.7 + 0.3 * [random value between 0 and 1]) * [Armor Value of Target]
                      - [Armor Penetration of Attacker]

If ArmorDmgReduction is less than 0, it is set to 0. Thus, Armor Penetration can at most reduce the damage reduction effect of armor to 0, it cannot result in a damage bonus.

Elemental Damage[edit | edit source]

Any kind of Elemental Damage (cold, electricity, fire, nature, spirit), e.g. from Spells, Runes, Poisons, Bombs, and Staves dealing Elemental Damage, is modified as follows:

Damage = BaseValue * AttackerDamageModifier * TargetResistanceModifier
Note: Certain creatures are immune to some types of elemental damage.

AttackerDamageModifier[edit | edit source]

There is a separate modifier for each type of elemental damage. This modifier is normally 1.0. It can be increased up to a cap of 1.3 with items that have a +X% {cold/electricity/fire/nature/spirit} damage property, e.g. Spirit Hands and Elementalist's Grasp.

Note: In Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, +X% {cold/electricity/fire/nature/spirit} damage properties are not capped at +30%. The new cap is +50%.

TargetResistanceModifier[edit | edit source]

The target can have up to 75% elemental resistance (this would correspond to a TargetResistanceMultiplier of 0.25). Elemental resistance can be negative as well (due to the target having an elemental damage weakness or spells that lower resistance: Vulnerability Hex, Affliction Hex), adding an additional amount of damage. Negative resistance is capped at -100%.

Resistance % TargetResistanceModifier
-100 2.0
-50 1.5
0 1.0
25 0.75
50 0.5
75 0.25

Defense[edit | edit source]

A special creature attribute that influences the likelihood to successfully evade an attack. At very high levels, a creature can successfully evade almost all attacks.

DefenseValue = Base + (Dexterity - 10) + DefenseBonuses

Base defence depends on class. It is 40 for mages, 45 for warriors and 50 for rogues. Many items, spells and talents provide bonuses to defense.

Note: Defense allows to completely evade an attack (including any negative effects the attack might have), Armor reduces the damage from a successful attack.

Dodging[edit | edit source]

Dodge is a creature property (property 16, Displacement), with value range from 0.0 to 100.0. This is essentially the chance for a creature to completely evade a physical attack (before defense is factored in). This property is handled in the function that calculates attack roll, which means any attack that does not require an attack roll will ignore dodging (e.g., Ogre's Ram, Golem's Slam). Attacks that do perform an attack roll, but cannot miss, such as Scattershot, also cannot be dodged, as the miss will be converted into a hit before impact application.

When a dodge occurs, there is a chance for an animation to accompany the dodge. The character either sways their body backward, or deflects the attack with their weapon. If the character has Evasion, the dodge animations are forced to play more frequently. With Evasion, the animations will play during the "Wait" command, or the "Attack" (basic attack) command, or when the command is invalid. If the character is in the middle of performing a basic attack, this attack will be interrupted if the dodge animations are triggered.

Displacement is modified by a number of abilities (Fade Shroud, Dark Passage), as well as the "+X% chance to dodge attacks" effect from equipment (Cailan's Greaves, Cinch of Skillful Maneuvering). It is possible to achieve 100% Displacement by combining a number of these sources.

Freezing[edit | edit source]

Certain spells, namely Winter's Grasp, Cone of Cold, Blizzard, and Hand of Winter can temporarily incapacitate a target if effective.

Resistance check
Freezing is resisted by a successful physical resistance check vs. the caster's spellpower.
Freeze duration is determined by the base freeze duration modified by target rank.

Elemental Immunity[edit | edit source]

Some monsters are completely immune to certain damage types. This immunity can not be bypassed with Vulnerability Hexes.

Elemental Resistance[edit | edit source]

Elemental resistance determines the character's ability to withstand various elemental effects, specifically primal magic (fire, ice, electricity, nature, spirit). A high elemental resistance (fire, ice, electricity, nature, spirit resistance) allows a character to limit the damage of the elemental attack.

  • Examples include: Withstanding Flame Blast, Winter's Grasp, Stonefist, Shock, etc.

Health[edit | edit source]

Health is the amount of total damage a character/enemy can take before falling unconscious. The red meter outlining the left side of the character portrait tracks this statistic (percentage left vs. total). Health is increased by constitution, 5 health points per 1 level constitution.

Knockdown[edit | edit source]

A common combat effect that incapacitates a target for a short duration.

Stun[edit | edit source]

A common combat effect that incapacitates a target for a short duration.

  • Stun effect applies a temporary -1000 dexterity debuff (source: effect_stun_h.nss).
  • Mind Blast is the only spell that stuns, and it does not allow a resistance check (though it can be resisted by spell resistance).
  • Whenever a creature is stunned, all incoming stuns applied on this creature within the next 15 seconds have their duration reduced to 25%.
  • An attacker who has Coup De Grace can score automatic backstabs on a stunned target, without need of flanking, provided all other conditions for backstabs hold true.
  • Indomitable and Beyond the Veil provide complete immunity against stun.
  • Stun (together with knockdown, slip, and paralyze) can interrupt a Grab attack if applied successfully, regardless of whether the target is immune to stun or not.
  • All creatures categorized as "demons" (Fade creatures), except Abominations, are immune to stun.

Mental Resistance[edit | edit source]

See also § Resistance Checks and Talents and Spells that check against Mental Resistance

Mental Resistance determines the character's ability to withstand various special effects, specifically combat (Bard songs) or magic effects which affect the mind of the character. A high mental resistance allows a character to either completely shrug off the effect, or take a limited negative buff instead. Mental Resistance is different from § Spell Resistance.

  • Examples include: Withstanding Captivating Song, Blood Control, Horror, etc.

Missile Deflection[edit | edit source]

A property most often seen on shields that increases effective defence against missile attacks only.

Movement Speed[edit | edit source]

The speed at which a creature is able to move. Haste increases movement speed by 30%. Swift salve increases movement speed by 20%.

Physical Resistance[edit | edit source]

See also § Resistance Checks and Talents and Spells that check against Physical Resistance

Physical Resistance determines the character's ability to withstand various special effects, specifically combat or magic effects which affect the body of the character. A high physical resistance allows a character to either completely shrug off the effect, or take a limited negative buff instead.

  • Examples include: Withstanding Knockdown, Earthquake, Paralyze.

Regeneration[edit | edit source]

Stamina and mana regenerate at different rates depending on attributes and whether the creature is engaged in combat. Refer to Regeneration article for additional information.

Resistance Checks[edit | edit source]

See also Resistances

Physical and mental combat effects have a chance to be resisted by a target as modified by various factors.

Pseudocode - Resistance Check

ResistanceChance = [Target Resistance Score] - ([Caster Attacking Attribute] - 10) + 
                   (([Target level] - [Caster Level]) * 5) + [Target Rank Bonus]

If ResistanceChance >= [Target Maximum Resistance Chance]
    ResistanceChance = [Target Maximum Resistance Chance]

CheckSuccess = (0.0 <= [Random Decimal Value] < 100.0) <= ResistanceChance

Creature Resistance Table[edit | edit source]

Creature Rank Resistance
Player 0 75%
Critter 0 0
Normal 0 50%
Lieutenant 10 75%
Boss 20 100%
Elite Boss 30 100%
  • Table is based on data from 2da "autoscale"

Shattering[edit | edit source]

When frozen or petrified by a spell, a target can possibly be shattered by a critical hit (or by the effect of specific other spells), effectively killing it instantly.

Pseudocode - Shatter Check

If [Target] is not a Boss or Plot Character and (not a Party Member unless (Difficulty >= Hard))
    If [Target] is a Special Rank
        If Difficulty = Easy
            ShatterChance = 0.3
        ElseIf Difficulty = Normal
            ShatterChance = 0.2
        ElseIf Difficulty = Hard
            ShatterChance = 0.1
        ElseIf Difficulty = Nightmare
            ShatterChance = 0.05
        ShatterChance = 1.0

Effect Duration Modifiers[edit | edit source]

The duration of a temporary hostile status effect may be modified by party size and target rank. Most hostile effects from standard talents and spells are affected by these factors.

Party Size[edit | edit source]

If the target is not a party member, a hostile effect applied on the target is increased by 1 second for every missing party member.

The reasoning behind this is that there are sequences in the game in which the player character has to progress without a full party, even alone. Some characters depend more heavily on temporary status effects than others, depending on their class and ability selection.

Target Rank[edit | edit source]

After party size modifier has been factored in, the effect's duration is further modified by the rank of the target, becoming shorter against target of a higher rank.

The following table includes data for the duration of effects based on creature rank and game difficulty.

Creature Rank Easy Normal Hard Nightmare
Player 50% 80% 100% 110%
Critter 200% 150% 120% 110%
Normal 120% 100% 100% 100%
Lieutenant 100% 75% 75% 60%
Boss 80% 60% 40% 35%
Elite Boss 50% 25% 20% 20%
  • Table is based on data from 2da "autoscale"

Stun[edit | edit source]

The stun effect, in particular, receives another modifier. After a creature is stunned, all incoming stuns applied to that creature within the next 15 seconds have their duration reduced to 25%. This modifier is applied last, separately from party size and target rank, and is always in effect, unlike the latter two.

Spell Resistance[edit | edit source]

See also Resistances

Spell Resistance determines the percentage chance to completely ignore a hostile magical spell attack. Non-spell elemental attacks ignore this attribute as they are not spells. Spells cast by party members (i.e. friendly fire) are not normally affected by Spell Resistance.

In nightmare mode, mobs have a base spell resistance of 5%. In easy mode, -10%.

Threat[edit | edit source]

See also Threat

Threat determines how enemies attack your party, and it is critical to take this into account when determining combat strategy.

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